Can Elementary Teachers Teach Seniors in High School?

If you are currently an elementary school teacher who wants to further your career in teaching, you’ve probably toyed with the idea of teaching seniors in high school. However, you may wonder if it’s possible.

Elementary teachers can teach seniors in high school, provided they meet the requirements for high school teachers and pass the necessary license and certification tests commensurate with the subjects they teach and the grade level they intend to teach.

This article will discuss the requirements for elementary school teachers to be able to teach high school senior students. We will also explore the differences between elementary and high school teachers to help you decide if you want to push through with teaching seniors in high school. Keep reading to learn more.

Requirements To Teach Seniors in High School

An elementary school teacher who wishes to teach seniors in high school must meet the requirements for high school teachers, which vary in every district and state. The No Child Left Behind Act, passed by the US Congress in 2015, required states to set standards for high school teachers to be considered “highly qualified.”

Unlike in elementary schools, where teachers can teach numerous subjects to the same batch of students, high school teachers are only allowed to teach the subject they are competent to teach based on their educational background.

The general requirements in every state include:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a major in the subject they wish to teach
  • Completion of a student teaching internship focusing on the topic they want to teach
  • Passing the required teaching and subject area tests in their state
  • Obtaining a teaching license in their state through an examination or a teaching license reciprocity for those with an out-of-state license

Differences Between an Elementary School Teacher and a High School Teacher

Now that we have discussed how an elementary school teacher can teach seniors by meeting the requirements to become a high school teacher, let’s discuss the differences between an elementary school teacher and a high school teacher.

Duties and Responsibilities

Elementary Teachers

Elementary school teachers are tasked with teaching children from kindergarten level to the fifth grade. These teachers teach various subjects to their class throughout the year, including maths, reading, and science, among other topics.

Some states consider sixth, seventh, and eighth grades as part of the elementary level, even if they are considered by many to be classified as middle school.

Elementary teacher duties include:

  • Preparation of lesson plans and teaching materials for every lesson
  • Implementation of school rules and regulations inside and outside of the classroom
  • Assess and grade students’ output, including informing the student’s parents about their progress at school
  • Coach or tutor students who are falling behind in class or struggling to follow the pace of the lessons
  • Usage of different teaching approaches and techniques to meet student needs

High School Teachers

On the other hand, high school teachers focus on teaching adolescents enrolled from the ninth to the twelfth grade. Unlike elementary school teachers, they are only tasked with teaching their students the subject they specialize in.

High school teachers can also deliver specialized classes to their students, including seniors, in preparation for their college education or participation in the workforce.

High school teachers have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Preparation of lesson plans based on the subject matter they specialize in
  • Coach individual students
  • Assess student performance based on their output in that specific class
  • Assist students in preparation for their state examinations 

Lesson Planning and Scheduling

Elementary Teachers

Elementary students spend at least 4 to 6 hours learning each day. Since teachers deliver lessons on multiple topics to a single group of students, they have to create numerous lesson plans and prepare their teaching aids after the students leave the classroom.

High School Teachers

Meanwhile, high school teachers create a lesson plan for a specific subject in a particular grade level. Subjects are generally scheduled for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their complexity and the teacher’s availability.

So if a teacher is assigned to teach a subject to several classes of high school seniors, he can create a single lesson plan for everyone since it is most likely that the lessons delivered in one classroom will be the same in the next period.

Approaches To Student Behaviors

Elementary Teachers

Elementary school teachers are tasked to help their students understand and manage their emotions. They employ different methods and strategies to achieve this goal.

To learn more, Mental Health America has provided tips to help teachers assist their students who are struggling with their mental health. Elementary school students also depend on their teachers to achieve their academic goals.

High School Teachers

Unlike elementary students, being withdrawn from others and reserved about their emotions is typical among high school students. High school teachers can effectively connect with these students by trying to establish a shared hobby or interest with them. Students will be more likely to open up to their teachers this way.

Additionally, due to their older age, high school students, especially those in their senior year, are already independent. Teachers can help these students understand their independence or allow them to grow within their autonomy.


Elementary Teachers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of elementary school teachers in the US in 2021 was $61,350.

High School Teachers

A high school teacher has an annual average wage of $61,820.

As you can tell, the salary gap between elementary and high school teachers isn’t much.

To learn more about the factors affecting the salaries of elementary and high school teachers, check out my article “Do Elementary Teachers Make More Than High School Teachers?”

Final Thoughts

Elementary teachers can teach seniors in high school, provided they meet the requirements and pass the certification and licensure tests set by the state where they wish to teach. The conditions may vary from one school district or state to another.

However, before deciding on this career move, you must reflect on whether this will be the right choice for you.


Mr Mustafa

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